The celebration of Christmas festival is the annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, which is widely observed by millions of Christian faithful across the world.
Although the exact year and birth date of Jesus Christ remains the subject of controversy, the 25th of December celebration remains popular within the Christendom. Notwithstanding, some nations of the world, due to the disparity in calendars celebrate Christmas in the month of January.
For this reason, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova celebrate Christmas on what in the Gregorian calendar is 7th January.
Co-incidentally, the Christmas season comes along with the end of the year celebration. This increases the feeling of the season with fun and merriment while leaving the big question of the real reason for the season.
The popular celebratory trends associated with Christmas across the world includes gift giving, Christmas music and carolling, exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, special meals, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, garlands etc. Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St Nicholas and Christ King also have a usual practice of bringing gifts to children during the season.
The period is also known for giving economic activities a boost, as it brings about heightened economic activity among both Christians and non- Christians and a key sales period for businesses.
Reason for the Season
An historical account attributed the 25th December date to Roman holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17th -25th.
The account further posits that Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.
Also Stephen Nissenbaum, a Professor of history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, in his popular work “Battle for Christmas” opined that celebrating the anniversary of the Saviour’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been. This implies that the Church had little success in refining the practices of Saturnalia.
This however remains a major concern within the Christendom, as sometimes the name “Christmas” is used in circular activities.
Cinema houses, night clubs, music concerts and entertainment centers are usually busy throughout the season, in the name of “Christmas Parties and Concerts”.
Sharing the view of church on the development, Reverend Solomon Umazi of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, First Abuja parish during his sermon at the “Carol of Nine lessons 2012” organized by the church reechoed the lesson that comes with the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Minister, who narrated his personal experience, at a so called Christmas party, where he was not allowed the opportunity to talk about Christ, resounded that Christ was the reason for the season and all activities hinged around the Christmas celebration must be associated with the mission and teachings of Christ the Savior.
Reverend Umazi in his message titled “let everyone prepare him a room” stated that Christ was born in a stable (a farm building for housing horses or livestock’s) and put in a manger because his mother Mary had no room to stay. He thereby charged the congregation to fund a room for Christ in their hearts.
The minister warned that Christmas celebration would stand against the unbelievers on the Day of Judgment, as he said celebrating Christmas season towards the end of every calendar year was just a mere coincidence which should not de-emphasize the reason for the season.
“When Christ was born, there was no room, except where the animals were staying, the Christmas season will stand against those that will go to hell on the Day of judgment, everything going-on this season means that people should create a room for him, if Jesus has no place in your life, make a room for him today,” he said.
He also charged the congregation not to limit their gestures during this season to material gifts of food and clothing, but to also offer spiritual gifts that could show people the real philosophy behind the Christmas celebration. “Share the word of God alongside the gifts during the season,” he added.
The carol service which was colorful enough to fulfill the entertainment and fun found in circular places was indeed a perfect strategy for winning the Christmas season totally for the church and the remembrance of salvation. Various interesting congregational carols, solo rhythms and display of instrumental talents were featured to add spices to the event.
Organizing coordinator of the Carol service, Mrs. Isioma Ukwa while giving reasons for the programme stated that, “The nine lessons” was meant to remind the world about the birth of Jesus and the reason for his birth. She said that the nine carols are the predictions that Jesus Christ will be coming.
She noted, “It was prophesized and it came to pass, in fact the whole Old Testament certified the coming of Christ, and it was fulfilled in the New Testament.
And we are celebrating the birth of Christ, no matter what we do, Jesus is the reason for this season, no matter the cloths you wear, the food we eat or the drink we drink, Jesus is still the reason for our celebration, because without the birth of Christ, we cannot even have the crucifixion and we cannot even say we are talking about our salvation.”
She also said that the Carols of Nine lessons was a special occasion because a lot of innovations were featured to buttress the way Christ has shown his followers to live.
Undoubtedly, the colors and glamour witnessed at the Carol of Nine Lessons, if sustained, is capable of shifting attention back to the church and giving celebration of the Christmas season the real meaning of its intent.